THE Conservative government has refused to tell MPs how much it will pay the European Union to settle the so-called Brexit bill – less than a week before it must meet a deadline on the issue.

With less than five days to go for the UK to provide proposals on key stumbling blocks, Treasury minister Liz Truss yesterday repeatedly declined to shed any light on the matter.

Instead, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury told the Commons that reports suggesting it could be up to £49 billion were “media speculation”.

Under pressure from the opposition parties, who accused her of a lack of transparency, she again underlined the Government’s position that “no deal was better than a bad deal” and that any “divorce bill” would be contingent on getting a good deal on future trade. “As we have said, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Any settlement that we make is contingent on us securing a suitable outcome,” she told MPs.

European Council President Donald Tusk has given the UK an ultimatum to present viable proposals on the divorce bill, the Irish border and citizens’ rights by next Monday, otherwise the EU will not allow talks on future trade relations to begin in mid-December. Such a scenario would increase the prospect of the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal.

Reports yesterday said officials close to the Brexit negotiations had said broad agreement has been reached on a framework for the UK to settle liabilities expected to total around €45-55 billion (£40-£49bn). If that sum is correct Scotland could face paying around a tenth, despite voting to remain in the EU.

Should agreement be reached on the financial settlement, it would be one less obstacle to trade talks, but differences with Dublin over the status of the border in Ireland and unresolved differences over citizen’s rights could still block progress at the European Council summit on December 14-15.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday that Ireland has the backing of other EU states for his government’s demand for no hard border.

“The solidarity that exists for Ireland and behind our specific issues in relation to avoiding a hard border remains very strong,” he told the Irish parliament in Dublin.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier stressed yesterday that agreement on the key divorce issues of the financial settlement, the Irish border, and citizens’ rights was “not there yet”.

Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference, he said: “We are awaiting sufficient progress from London ... We are not there yet. The work on the three main subjects continues this week in a constructive spirit with the UK.”

May is due to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday’s deadline for the make-or-break talks. A recommendation from Barnier would spark intensive discussions in EU capitals over the 10 days before the European Council summit, at which any of the 27 remaining member states could wield a veto.

The reported deal on the divorce bill was denounced by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage as a “sellout”.

And former Cabinet minister Priti Patel said on Monday that the EU should be told to “sod off with their excessive financial demands”.

But former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 5 Live that even a divorce bill over £40bn would be “a good bargain” because the UK would save “staggering amounts of money” on contributions to the EU budgets over the long term.

Meanwhile, the SNP have called for an emergency Budget from the Government in light of the £49bn Brexit bill.

The party’s economy spokeswoman Kirsty Blackman MP, warned that last week’s Budget did not make provision for the UK paying billions towards the divorce bill – adding that public services must not pay the price for the UK Government’s “disastrous and disorganised” Brexit mess.

“Just last week in the Budget, the Chancellor told us that the UK Government has already spent £700 million on Brexit preparations, with a further £3bn allocated towards its plans.

“Now we are told the UK Government has agreed to pay a figure of around €50bn to the EU over the divorce settlement. Given that last week’s Budget did not make provision for this divorce bill figure, the Chancellor must now bring forward an emergency Budget to clarify the breakdown of the payment and what services and departments will be facing the axe to make way for a Tory hard Brexit.

“Or has the Chancellor been so lucky as to find two magic money trees in one year?”

What are the payments involved in the Brexit bill? 

UNOFFICIAL calculations have put the gross figure at around €100 billion (£88bn), but deductions for items such as the UK rebate and Britain’s share of the European Investment Bank could reduce the net sum to about half that.

The bill covers Britain’s financial obligations to the EU in three main areas: legally binding budget commitments that will be paid after Britain leaves; pension promises to EU officials; and contingent liabilities such a loan guarantees to Greece and Ukraine, money promised to Syrian refugees in Turkey, and schemes aimed at stopping  migration from Africa.

The most legally contentious relate to support for EU investment projects that will be paid for after Britain leaves.

These liabilities come in two forms: project commitments that have yet to be paid; and structural funds promised to EU member states, which will largely be  turned into “budget commitments” and paid for between 2019 and 2023.

The EU 27 are confident Britain will eventually pay, because the costs of a disorderly Brexit are much higher.

Theresa May is open to limited contributions to participate in future EU programmes. But she has ruled out paying “huge sums” to the EU after Brexit.

Britain’s exit leaves a significant gap in the EU budget and remaining net contributors do not want to pay more, and net recipients do not want to lose out. The final number is unlikely to be agreed until the 11th hour of Brexit divorce  negotiations in October 2018.